The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Office of Consumer Outreach (CFTC) are issuing this Investor Alert to warn investors about fraudulent promotion schemes involving binary options and binary options trading platforms. These schemes allegedly involve, among other things, the refusal to credit customer accounts or reimburse funds to customers, identity theft, and manipulation of software to generate losing trades.
Binary OptionsBinary options differ from more conventional options in significant ways. A binary option is a type of options contract in which the payout will depend entirely on the outcome of a yes/no proposition.The yes/no proposition typically relates to whether the price of a particular asset that underlies the binary option will rise above or fall below a specified amount. For example, the yes/no proposition connected to the binary option might be something as straightforward as whether the stock price of XYZ company will be above $9.36 per share at 2:30 pm on a particular day, or whether the price of silver will be above $33.40 per ounce at 11:17 am on a particular day. once the option holder acquires a binary option, there is no further decision for the holder to make as to whether or not to exercise the binary option because binary options exercise automatically. Unlike other types of options, a binary option does not give the holder the right to purchase or sell the underlying asset. When the binary option expires, the option holder will receive either a pre-determined amount of cash or nothing at all. Given the all-or-nothing payout structure, binary options are sometimes referred to as “all-or-nothing options” or “fixed-return options.”
Binary Options Trading Platformssome binary options are listed on registered exchanges or traded on a designated contract market that are subject to oversight by United states regulators such as the seC or CFtC, respectively, but this is only a portion of the binary options market. Much of the binary options market operates through Internet-based trading platforms that are not necessarily complying with applicable U.s. regulatory requirements. The number of Internet-based trading platforms that offer the opportunity to purchase and trade binary options has surged in recent years. The increase in the number of these platforms has resulted in an increase in the number of complaints about fraudulent promotion schemes involving binary options trading platforms.